Tag Archives: abortion

Give Your Voice a Choice Event: 8/25 Heartland Cafe

I’m MCing an awesome event tomorrow night called Give Your Voice a Choice. Mostly as a shameless plug for the event but also because I think it’s worth sharing, I’ve included my introduction and my story of choice below. The event is 6 to 9 at Heartland Cafe and more deets can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=106511572779697

“The event tonight is about choice. Not just choice as it is defined redundantly in the media in the battle over abortion, but the broader choices everyone faces when dealing with reproduction. From deciding to tie your tubes at 30 to deciding to have a child at 40 to deciding to end an unplanned pregnancy, from abstinence to monogamy to the Kama sutra, from condoms to IEDs to that weird ring thing, we all make choices regarding our reproduction. Yet we often feel alone in our struggles, dilemmas and ultimate choices.

The Chicago Chapter of the National Organization of Women is thrilled to bring together members of the community as well as local musicians to talk about choice and bring together our voices.

We would like to thank everyone who contributed at the door. If you would still like to contribute please feel free to come up to the table and pick up a brochure and make a contribution. All the proceeds tonight will go to benefit the Chicago Abortion Fund, who provides financial assistance to low-income women wishing to end their unplanned pregnancies. You can read more about the fund including their participants’ stories at www.chicagoabortionfund.com.

We would also like to thank our three musicians tonight who will be donating their time and talent including Anne-Marie Akin, Gabrielle Schafer, & Glad Fanny. They also have CDS and merchandise for sale at the table.

Also we would like to give a big thank you to all of our speakers who agreed to share their stories.  We are lucky enough tonight to have Terry Cosgrove from Planned Parenthood as well as Representative Kelly Cassidy here, as well as many other members of the community. If you have not already signed up to tell a story but wish to do so, there is a sign up sheet at the table and there will be time in the middle of the event for volunteer speakers.

To kick off the night, I’m going to share some facts and figures with you.

After sitting on my shelf for more than a year, I am finally reading “Half the Sky.”

The book gives quite a few scary facts about the state of women in the 21st century especially regarding maternal health.

Some of the most shocking to me were that there is one maternal death every minute and for every death at least ten other women suffer significant injuries such as fistulas or serious tearing.

Additionally unsafe abortions cause the deaths of seventy thousand women annually and cause serious injuries to another 5 million. Five Million Women.


That is big number. So large in fact that we tend to not be able to grasp it and it rolls into our heads with all the other horrible atrocities of the 21st century.

Scientists have proven that facts, numbers and “objective” figures when dealing with humanitarian issues don’t trigger our consciences or pull at our heartstrings. Stories do. Connecting with an individual story evokes the compassion needed for greater humanity in the world.

So with that in mind, I’m going to tell my story.

My senior year in college I went to study abroad in Argentina. I stayed with a middle-income family in a working-class barrio. They had a maid, I’ll call her Tia, who lived with them. During the day we would watch soap operas, eat little cookies and occasionally exchange our thoughts on the boludos on the screen. Our relationship was superficial and other than the fact that she was from the North part of the country and was relatively poor, I didn’t know much about her.

Then one day I came into the kitchen and Tia was crying. No not crying, but sobbing, shaking in  her shoulders as she washed dishes in the sink. Of course I asked her what was wrong but when she tried to explain with her northern accent and rapidly more desperate words, I couldn’t understand her. I patted her shoulder, and asked if I could do anything. She gave me a cup of coffee.

My host family later explained that Tia’s 16-year-old daughter, I’ll call her Maria, had run away with her motorcycle-riding 20 year old boyfriend. Tia blamed herself for not being there. But there was nothing she could do. Tia’s abusive ex-husband had custody of the children and all Tia could do was send the children some extra money for school supplies.

I left for the weekend to go on a trip to the beach. When I came back there was Maria, looking more morose than one would think possible of a 16 year old girl. She had bags under her eyes and walked slightly hunched. She did not talk to me and left the room anytime I came in.

My host family explained later. Maria had run away to get an illegal abortion. It had gone wrong. She couldn’t stop bleeding. They took out her uterus. She would never have children. The motorcycle-riding boyfriend was no where in sight. Maria’s father did not want her back in his house.

Before I left I gave her my hair dryer and black converses. I didn’t know what else I could say or do that would somehow lessen the hurt of what had happened and how her life would never be the same.

When I got back to the states I went to visit my family and catch up with life from the past year. I was chatting with my cousin, when she told me she had had an abortion while I was gone. It was an unplanned pregnancy. She found out when she was only a few weeks pregnant. She took a pill and continued her 2nd year of nursing school. She graduates this May.

When I asked her if I could share her story she said sure but she also said “There’s not much to share. I don’t really think about it ever. Maybe that is offensive to some people. But it just isn’t a part of my life.”

I often think about the difference in the futures of two young girls because of access to reproductive rights, because of a country’s laws over those reproductive rights and in the end because of luck of where they were born. And in the end, it is their stories that ahve convinced me that access to abortion and reproductive health is a right of every woman.

When we were talking about creating this event 9 months ago, we were all surprised and comforted by the similarities we had in our stories. We wanted to share this comfort and connection with a larger community by sharing our stories. Thank you for joining us tonight and enjoy the event.”



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New Threats to Access to Abortion in IL

Last month was the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the supreme-court decision that gave American women access to the safe abortions. For the past 38 years, abortion has been legal, at least on paper. Being 25, I can’t imagine a United States of America where abortion is illegal; nor I can imagine a United States where the abortion isn’t a highly controversial topic impolite for dinner conversation but appropriate for graphic posters outside medical clinics.

But while abortion is legal, little by little, access to abortion has been restricted over the past 38 years. States have made abortions after 20 weeks illegal, they have made it financially challenging for clinics to receive funding or they have put mandatory wait times between consultations and abortion procedures.

Illinois is no exception. This month the Agriculture Committee of the house will bring a bill HB1919 to the floor. The bill will require abortion providers to show patients an ultrasound of the fetus before an abortion is performed. The bill will then require patients to wait one hour before the procedure can be performed. It is obvious that this bill has no medical relevance. An ultrasound is not necessary for an abortion nor is forcing a woman to wait an hour is a paper gown before receiving a procedure she and her doctor has decided is necessary. This bill will put an extra burden on abortion clinics who already have more demand than time available.

ACLU is hosting a Rally for Choice: Women are not livestock event in Springfield 15 March 2011

For today’s young American women, who may have had an abortion or who may need an abortion in the future, an America doesn’t exist where abortion isn’t illegal. Yet every year politicians chip away a little at what constitutes legal. And quite frankly, it just isn’t their decision. We may not know a world without abortion but we know we want to keep access to abortion available for ourselves, our friends and for future generations. On Tuesday March 15th there will be a Rally for Choice in Springfield. Take the day to voice your opinion and to tell the state legislation that women’s choice does not belong on the Ag Committee’s agenda. Register here on the ACLU website.

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Walk for Choice! Young People Show Up To Support Choice.

I have never been a great chanter. I blame it on my inherent lack of rhythm as a white person; screaming slogans while rhythmically hoisting poster board has never been my strong suit, not even in my hippy college days.

Going to my first pro-choice rally in Chicago this Saturday, I was naturally nervous that my awkward inability to chant, “Ho! Ho! Hey! Hey! Women’s rights are here to stay!” would expose me as the novice marcher that I am. I practiced some traditional slogans the night before. “Hey! Hey! Mister! Mister! Get your laws off my sister!” I repeated into the mirror until I had sufficiently mastered the elegant prose.

On rally day, I downed a pot a coffee and headed for Daley plaza ready to impress the masses with my in-sync vocals.  As I blended into the hundreds of pro-choice demonstrators and prepared to shout, I realized the majority of marchers surrounding me were young people, like me, and many of them were quiet.

I admit I was expecting a showing of middle-aged feminists with flowers braided into their hair shouting slogans about their vaginas. But the crowd that surrounded me was in their 20’s with bright orange t-shirts thrown over their Northface jackets. Some had banners and were shouting slogans but many were just holding signs and occasionally waving at beeping cars that passed.

As we began to walk through downtown Chicago, I found myself not chanting but waving to encouraging drivers and downtown tourists. My fellow marchers were Planned Parenthood employees, students from the suburbs, a feminist from Iowa and a family who wanted to show their kids what civic engagement looks like.

The crowd was young and diverse.  As one passerby noted, “There are a lot of dudes here.” There were also children, a few dogs and one distinctly colored 5-inch mohawk. And although some came prepared with whistles, signs and impressive lung capacity, others just seemed to show up.

I realized marching that this isn’t the 70’s and social progress isn’t about the strength of your chants. From Egypt to Daley plaza in 2011 it is just about showing up. Young people especially are filling the proverbial and physical squares around the world, and whether or not they are chanting something, they are all saying we have something to say.

There are a number of ominous budgets cuts headed to Congress right now. Everything from Planned Parenthood to PBS to Americorps is being threatened. You don’t need to practice slogans from the 70’s to support these causes. It is 2011, folks. Update your Facebook status, tweet it, blog it, sign an on-line letter campaign, text a donation, or just show up. As for me, I’m going to blog my support of for Planned Parenthood and save the chants for when they are really necessary, like the next Justin Bieber concert: “Bieber Fever! Bieber Fever”

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Abortion not a “women’s issue”

For some time now I’ve been interested in what I affectionately refer to as “women’s issues,” that vast swath issues ranging from domestic violence to women’s image in the media to the most notorious of women’s issues out there abortion. As “women’s issues” these topics are usually handled by women in the media. But to my delighted surprise, a recent Salon article written by a man about abortion was one of the most honest and enlightenign articles I’ve read on the subject for a while.

The author Aaron Traister

The male writer is Aaron Traister and he describes how abortion and reproductive rights have touched every part of his life. From his mother’s decision to end a dangerous pregnancy to his college’s girlfriends decision to have an abortion to his wife’s access to birth control, each of the women in his life made reproductive choices that not only affected their future but his. Realizing this, Traister writes one of the strongest arguments for men becoming involved in the pro-choice movement.

I wish all men could read this and understand there is no such thing as “women’s issues.” As Traister, says “The destinies of men and women are intertwined by sex, and pregnancy, and childbirth. It is time for more men to sack up and start taking responsibility for their end of the conversation.” Read the full article here .

I must admit that there is a part of me that is protective about “women’s issues” and particularly abortion. A part of me doesn’t want to give up ownership of something that has to do so intimately with my body and my future. But as I read Traister’s story, I came to the same conclusion with him: abortion is a difficult decision which we are all responsible for defending and perhaps in sharing this responsibility the burden will become a bit less.

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An eye for an eye, a mass of cells for a doctor’s life

You can’t “kill” a mass of cells in a women’s uterus but in South Dakota it is A-Okay to kill a full grown adult. A new bill would make killing an abortion doctor legal if the intent was to save a fetus. Who really thinks this is a good idea?

Read the article here

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Abortion’s Common Ground: It’s Not Your Decision

For as long as I have been alive, abortion has been legal. It has also been one of the most divisive issues of my generation, not just in the media, politics or in the church but within my own circle of friends. The majority of my friends are pro-choice yet what we would do personally if we became pregnant, the decisions vary widely.

But no matter what each of us feel individually, we all understand it is not our choice to decide what another person should do with her uterus, her 9-months and her future. This is the common ground we all stand on. Although personally we all have different values, we know our values are not somehow better than anyone else’s.

This is the major common ground missed in most abortion arguments. In light of the recent horrific news about an illegal abortion clinic in Philadelphia, Salon’s Rebekah Kuschmider reminds readers that this common ground still exists.

Kuschmider remarks that “Societies over the course of human history have tried to put all kinds of different regulations and rules on sex but in the end, pretty much everybody does it. And you do not have the right to impose your personal sexual morals on anyone else. You don’t. It’s rude. So please don’t try.”

She continues to confirm that indeed the human race has sex and sex produces pregnancy. She encourages society to change the way we look at sex, reproductive rights and the attitudes we hold towards women and sex.

“Telling young women that having sex makes them “bad” is a good way to totally undermine their self-esteem if they do have sex and lead them to make poor choices about it,” Kuschmider says.

While my friends and I  have these conversations about abortion “what ifs,” we also have discussions about the best type of birth control, which condoms are most enjoyable as well as what positions we like and what makes good sex great. And just as we would never tell a friend that liking “doggy style” is just weird and wrong, or perfering ribbed condoms is immoral, we would never say the personal decision to have an abortion is right or wrong.

Read Kuschmider’s full article here

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Filed under Feminist Rant, Low Brow, Magazine, Reproductive Rights, The Politics

Hallelujah! Health Care for All has Passed! Well almost….

Let’s all just be honest for a second. The majority of us have no clue what this new Health Care Reform bill is really about. I don’t even know what it is officially called. At one point it was the Affordable Health Care for America Act…but I think that had too much of a “socialist” sound to it for the Republicans. Maybe it is now the watered-down-we’re-not-Canada-health-care-reform bill?

Nancy Pelosi is credited for getting the final Democrat votes needed to pass the health care reform

Whatever the name and whether or not the “average” American can understand it, the news is still huge. Under the new act, millions of uninsured will have the opportunity to buy health insurance at reasonable prices, insurance companies can no longer deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, and people will not be saddled with thousands of dollars of medical debt because of one car accident, one cancerous lump or one medical misfortune.

Oh and women covered under this new glorious health care bill can no longer receive abortions. Or more specifically, women who want “abortion insurance” will have to pay a separate monthly premium for the service if they chose to enroll in the federal insurance program. The extra premium is meant to keep federal money out of the abortion business and keep the socio economic disparities enacted with the Hyde Amendment in the 70’s alive and well. Low-income women or under-insured women now have to make the decision whether or not they want to pay extra money every month incase they have an unwanted pregnancy.

What woman when filling out her federal insurance form is thinking, oh yeah better check the abortion box! You never know when the condom will break or my birth control will fail? No one will. No woman is using abortion as her main source for reproductive health. And no woman wants to wants to pay monthly for a service she never intends on using.

Despite attempts to create a bi-partisan bill, the health care reform act recieved all nays from the Republicans

And the Stupak Amendment (seriously why does his name have to look so much like stupid), instead of improving the health of women in the United States, will only complicate newly federally insured women’s medical decision to have an abortion. The stupid amendment will only add confusion and frustration to a process that is already confusing and frustrating enough.

All that said, the health care reform bill will do great good for millions of uninsured women. It will give them access to preventative health care, mammograms, cholesterol screenings, prenatal care, and a whole list ofother wonderful health benefits that every woman should have the right to while only denying the right to a safe, legal abortion. In the grand scheme, many are saying not such a bad deal for women.

The question for me remains, why does a Stupak get to decide what medical rights I have and what medical right I don’t have? Why does a man in Washington D.C. get to decide what is best for a single mother of two who can not afford another child? Why is abortion even part of this debate? And where will the provisions, amendments and sanctions end?

But, like I said, none of us really know what this new bill is. So I suggest we all keep reading and investigating and fighting for our right to have ALL our health care needs met including that right to choose. Below are a few sources for additional information:

Chicago Tribune did a decent job reciting what the president said in his speech late last night. “This is what change looks like,” the president said. Man, that guy has a good speech writer! http://www.swamppolitics.com/news/politics/blog/2010/03/obamas_healthcare_win_this_is.html

NY Times gives an interesting view on what Obama lost and gained with the passing of the reform: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/22/health/policy/22assess.html?th&emc=th

Also at the NY Times, specifics on abortion provisions:

Salon’s Broadsheet gives the opinion of the former President of Catholics for a Free Choice:

Salon also gives a summery of the democrats who voted against the bill:

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Health Care and my Uterus: How I came to be on the sides of Catholic Nuns over House Democrats

The front woman for "liberal journalism"

I’ll admit it. I have hated Maureen Dowd. There was one notorious day back in ‘09 when she decided the first lady’s bulging biceps were somehow NYTimes-Sunday-OpEd worthy; and I threw in the towel.

But she has redeemed herself with this Sunday’s to-the-chauvinistic-point OpEd about the Catholic churches and Bart Stupak’s dismissal of the voice of the Catholic nuns. (Read Dowd’s article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/21/opinion/21dowd.html?th&emc=th).

Quite simply she framed the plight of Catholic nuns as the same fight I am having for control of my uterus with Rep. Stupak. As Dowd says “For decades, the nuns did the bidding of the priests, cleaned up their messes, and watched as their male superiors let a perverted stain spread over the entire church, a stain that has now even reached the Holy See.” And now when they tried to give their much humbled and experience opinions, they are shushed by bishops and dismissed by Stupak at “knuckle wrapping” nuns.

In much the same way, I have watched Stupak and others debate the “abortion language” and decide whether or not my right to chose would be included in the sweeping health care reform. The voice of reason does not seem to matter on this one; the male house Democrats’ ears are closed to the simple fact that this debate is about health care not abortion; that my uterus has nothing to do with saving the lives of the uninsured.

The dust still has to clear on the health care reform but the debate on abortion will continue and the lines will be with drawn. But for one Sunday I can say I was on the side of Maureen Down and Catholic nuns everywhere.

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